Many of you will remember a highly controversial article on parenting style in The Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago written by Chinese American Amy Chua. You know, the one whose children have never been allowed a playdate, a sleepover or to get any grade less than an A; who practise their instruments three hours a day and are perfect on all quantifiable dimensions.
A well-deserved Costa Book of the Year winner! The Shock of the Fall is a heart-warming, funny, wise and convincing portrayal of a young boy’s descent into mental illness, from an author who’s seen it all in his job as a mental health nurse. ‘I should say that I am not a nice person. Sometimes I try to be, but often I’m not.’ The opening line of The Shock of the Fall, sets the stage for the sad tale of Matthew, a nineteen year-old, pot smoking school drop-out with severe psychological problems, looking back at his childhood. A sort of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for mental illness, with a slightly more adult tone.
Another long forgotten but fabulous novel is Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner from 1987. We meet two couples, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang, life-long loyal friends, soul mates, occasional competitors and mutual supporters. If you’re in the mood for a contemplative, tightly and exquisitely written novel, reach for Crossing to Safety.
…David Mitchell’s new book, The Bone Clocks, coming out in September. His last book, The Thousands Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, was one of my all time favourites, recommended ad nauseam to all my friends and family. Better, and certainly more accessible, than his previous multi-layered Cloud Atlas made into a film last year. Will keep you posted!
More than 500 authors have condemned state organised surveillance of citizens in an open letter to Barak Obama. The letter, signed by literary giants such as Margaret Atwood, Orhan Pamuk, Martin Amis, JM Coetzee, Ian McEwan and Gunther Grass, urges the United Nations to create an international digital bill of rights to protect the fundamental human right to ‘remain unobserved and unmolested’.
The Indian author and mathematics professor Manil Suri has had the honour of picking up the 2013 Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his book The City of Devi. The judges were particularly tittilated by a sex scene involving the three main characters.
Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.
Gotta to love it!
Over the past year or so I have stumbled upon two brilliant books, which, strangely enough, have a great deal in common. The first one, Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell, was featured on BBC Radio 4’s excellent programme Open Book. I read it in one gulp and it immediately joined my favourite-books list.
The Costa Book Awards 2013 were published last night with the youngest witness in the Lady Chatterley trial receiving a posthumous nomination for her book Unexpected Lessons in Love. The judges described by the book as an ‘unflinching, darkly funny story of love, obsession and illness that is unexpected in every way’. Sounds intriguing!